So, it’s been a year already since my Gloomhaven solo review, where has that time gone? Considering it is my all-time favourite game it hasn’t hit the table once in the last year. Why? Because it is my favourite game, that’s why!
Okay, that might sound a bit contradictory but it’s true. Gloomhaven only comes out to play when I know I can leave it set up for some time. I like to play several scenarios, one after the other, and I like to savour the moment, taking my time and immersing myself into the game. This last year the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself, certainly not for solo play, but I remain ever hopeful.
The fact I haven’t played it hasn’t changed how I feel about the game, and I know that when it does come off the shelf it will be like meeting an old friend, having a few beers, and reliving the good times. The characters, and the stories I have created for them (all in my mind of course!), will come alive again, and the world into which they adventure will continue to surprise.
Delicious choices will be presented every time one of them levels up – the tactical deckbuilding never fails to enthral me – and the battles will demand my full attention so that nothing goes awry. And what battles they are. Juicy choices as I ponder the cards. Intense moments when I open a door. The excitement as a plan succeeds. The shock as my favourite character goes down under a barrage of blows, my fists pumping the air in denial and thirst for vengeance. This is a game that lets you ride a crest of emotions and leaves you tired and mentally exhausted in your chair and yet still begging for more.
Yes, it has its faults, more so solo, such as the lengthy set-up time and the amount of admin you’ll be doing (sorting decks, levelling up, etc.). The movement and attacks of the bad guys can also take some getting used to, and it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re still learning (or coming back to the game after a good break), but the pros far out way these few minor things.
And then there’s Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, a kind of Gloomhaven Lite, which eases you into the mechanisms and does away with the map tiles, instead scenarios are played out on the scenario book itself, much reducing the set-up and storage hassle of its big brother. So, for all those who love tactical battles, RPGs, and dungeon crawlers, there really is no reason for you not to have a copy of this game – Gloomhaven or Gloomhaven Lite – and best of all there’s another iteration on the horizon, Frosthaven, which might prove to be the Daddy of them both; I await with bated breath!
Finally, I am asked the question why I’ve only ever played solo. At the time I bought it nearly everything I played was solo, and so off I went into the campaign, alone, but armed with a mighty imagination. In more recent times my daughter has become my gaming buddy, and now I find I can’t sit down to play anything solo because a little voice chirps up that she wants to play too (okay, it’s a mighty loud and often insistent voice, and she hasn’t chirped since she was about 2!). So, you’d think I’d have introduced her to my favourite game and shared with her the wonderous things it holds…?
No chance! There’s no way I’m letting her into the beloved world I have created, playing the characters all wrong and changing their decks so that they play totally different. Start a campaign afresh, what, are you out of your mind? I don’t want to know what would have happened if I’d done X instead of Y, not until the campaign has been completed and maybe not even then. And then what about revealing cards I’ve yet to come across in my campaign? Nooooooo!!!
Gloomhaven is my baby. The world is my world, and the characters all have the personalities that I gave them. They have grown as the game has developed – yes, I even keep a book highlighting how they react and make their decisions (Come on, bet I’m not the only one…. am I?). This ownership of the world is what has kept me playing solo, it’s also what makes this game great.
Knowing what I know now, would I still have bought it? Duh, yeah!
Will it remain in my collection? Why do I ask such silly questions – of course it will, forever and a day!
One Year On – Gloomhaven is still at the top of the BGG charts and for good reason. It still feels fresh, with its distinctive tactical combat, unique characters, and immersive world, and may only fall from its mantle when Frosthaven releases. Personally, I can’t sing its praises loud enough and though I don’t play nearly as much as I would like, it’s still the one game I’d save if the house caught fire, though carrying it might be the death of me!